Fulgence Nkurunziza 13, had a dream of becoming a doctor but poverty was against him and the doors seemed to be closed as his family could hardly afford basic needs.
Nkurunziza who studies in senior 1 Groupe ScolaireKivumu located in Rutsiro District in Kivumu sector, said he started to lose hope.
Nkurunziza and his three siblings used to quit home to school without taking even the light breakfast, and most of the times they were chased out of school due to the lack of school feeding fees, he said.
“We didn’t have uniforms and needed school materials and that would discourage me thinking that I would not reach where I wanted to reach,” he said.
He said they didn’t have anything even livestock and his parents had to search for petty jobs in order to find something to put on the table.
However, when his family was put under Vision 2020 Umurenge Programme (VUP), things changed positively.
VUP is an Integrated Local Development Programme to Accelerate Poverty Eradication, Rural Growth, and Social Protection.
“My father has bought some livestock thanks to VUP. For now I and my siblings can easily find school materials and we can even eat at school. Now I have hope that my dream of becoming a medical doctor can be realised and I have to work hard at school to make my dream a reality,” He happily said.
“We still have very few medical professionals compared to the needed number. If I become a doctor, I will do everything possible to preserve people’s lives and teach them how to fight malnutrition and stunting using what they have in their gardens,” he added.
Gilbert Habimana, a senior 4 student at Groupe Scolaire Rutunga located in Gasabo district in Rutunga Sector his life was not paved as he met various challenges because of the poverty within his family.
His father lives with disabilities acquired from the 1994 tutsi Genocide, and his mother was obliged to work alone in order to feed the family and find the basic needs for them.
“It was very sad to be chased from the school because we didn’t pay little fees needed to take foods at school. Even at home, we didn’t eat every day. Many times, I thought about dropping out but I don’t know what held me back,” he said.
Many times, he would go home at noon and refuse to go back to school with the empty stomach. His performance at school was very bad, he recalled.
“For now it is different. My father works in VUP and he tries to pay for school feeding and give me school materials. Now I can think properly about my future, which was not the same case before, thanks to VUP,” he said.
Habimana dreams to help his family to get out from the first Ubudehe category and shift to at least the third one, he said.
“I aspire to become an IT engineer and I hope I will make it. I wish other kids like me could be put under VUP to be able to continue their studies and achieve their dreams,” he said.
If possible, the remuneration from VUP should be increased in order to help beneficiaries to save for future, he proposed.
It is the case of Charlotte Musabyimana 17, who decided to drop out of school after failing to overcome many challenges she used to meet in her daily life at school.
Her father has a mental while the mother has a two years old baby and she is the one to provide everything.
“I dropped out when I was in senior 2. My mother gave birth to our last born and I saw she was not able to give me what I needed to continue with my studies and I would look for future in other ways,” she said.
Before, her family was registered into Classic Public works and when he mother was pregnant, he daughter would go to replace her father who is mentally sick pushing her to miss out of school, she said.
“The salary would go directly to my father’s account and he could spend it all without thinking about us. It was impossible to continue with school,” she said.
Later on, their household was put under Expanded Public works and her mother started to receive the money as the new head of household.
“I wish I could return in school but still the money we receive from VUP is very little to satisfy our needs and helps me to go back to school. I’ve decided to search for better future through other ways like doing petty jobs and participate into saving groups then buy livestock like pigs and goats, and my main goal is to buy a cow on my own,” she said.
However, her small siblings don’t meet the same challenges anymore, at least they will reach on their dreams and develop themselves through school, she said.
Justine Gatsinzi the Social Protection Division Manager at LODA said various studies done by partners, predominantly beneficiaries testified how VUP helped them to put their children in schools and find the basic school materials.
“When children don’t eat adequately at home, most of the times they drop out or even they go into child labour and begging at street. Helping households to put the food on the table and participating into school feeding, children become aspirant and go to school with energy,” he said.
Since 2008, more than one million of Rwandans benefited from Vision 2020 Umurenge Program.